By Michael Gyapong Akrasi, Charles Kojo Amponsah, Francis Osei-Gyan and Caleb Ofori-Boateng, Herp-Ghana

The Atewa Hills Forest Reserve in eastern Ghana is undoubtedly the most species-rich site in the country. In terms of species richness, the Atewa forest compares to very few in Africa. It is the only intact upland forest in Ghana and home to 100 globally threatened species and over 30 amphibian species of which two are critically endangered and endemic to the reserve (Atewa slippery frog, Afia’s puddle frog).

Many more remain to be discovered with increase in research. Unfortunately, the Atewa forest is at severe risk of being destroyed by a planned bauxite mining. Last year, old mining roads were reopened signaling the government’s resolve to soon move ahead with this controversial mining project. The planned mining overlaps with the tiny distribution of the Atewa slippery frog which is already considered by most scientists to be a distinct species (Blackburn et al., in review). Clearly, many endemic and endangered amphibians are likely to be extirpated should mining proceed. Sadly, many of these may never be discovered and named as knowledge of amphibians in the Atewa Hills is based on only two major surveys (Kouame et al., 2007; Leaché & Ofori-Boateng 2011).

A long-term study aimed at adequately cataloguing the unique amphibian diversity at different sites in the Atewa Hills seems to be a plausible course of action towards their conservation. While the fight to save Atewa Forest is far from over, ASA partner Herp-Ghana and Synchronicity Earth is working with local communities to carry out an amphibian monitoring programme in Atewa to uncover and document the amphibian species of this threatened forest. This is extremely important given the likelihood that other undiscovered frog species could occur there.

Herp-Ghana initiated their amphibian monitoring programme in June 2020 as they have trained five local volunteers in amphibian survey techniques and identification. This is to mobilize community support for amphibian conservation, build their capacity in amphibian survey techniques and also to ensure the longevity of the monitoring programme. In all, four monitoring surveys have been embarked on by their trained hunters during the period of June to August 2020.These have proven to show good prospects as they have discovered some potential new species. Herp-Ghana remains hopeful that this monitoring exercise will lead to the discovery of new species and that the results of this exercise will help strengthen their fight to save the Atewa Hills Forest Reserve.

Photo © Michael Gyapong Akrasi